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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 23
23 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.
3 Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
do not crave his delicacies;
7 for he is the kind of person
who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten
and will have wasted your compliments.
9 Do not speak to fools,
for they will scorn your prudent words.
10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender is strong;
he will take up their case against you.
12 Apply your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
and save them from death.
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
may she who gave you birth be joyful!
26 My son, give me your heart
and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait
and multiplies the unfaithful among men.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”
Proverbs 23:10 tells us, “Do not move an ancient boundary stone.” What does it mean in that we are not to remove an “ancient boundary stone” or “landmark”? What were ancient landmarks? Why were they not to be moved? This is addressed twice in Proverbs (also in Proverbs 22:28), but the context of this command goes back to the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving the Israelities a review of what has taken place so far. He goes over the history of the Israelites, a review of the law, and calls them to obedience as they are about to enter into the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 19:14, Moses tells them, “Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.”
A landmark was a stone pillar or a pile of stones that marked a property line. They told the people how far they could go, and were a means to establish order. These boundaries were pretty strict, and a person was considered cursed if they were to move them or go beyond them (Deuteronomy 27:17). In Mosaic Law, removing a boundary marker was a huge violation, and was considered theft. A person could slowly move a landmark, which might not be noticeable each individual time, but could make a significant change over time. When the Israelities conquered and divided the land in the book of Joshua, each tribe was given a specific amount of land to be their inheritance that was marked by a landmark (Joshua 13-19). These landmarks were to remain not only for the conquest generation, but for generations to come.
The eternal truth we take away from this command is that we are to maintain honesty in all areas of our life. However, we are prone to do the opposite. We can make small compromises that seem insignificant in the moment, but could make a significant impact over time. These small compromises can grow into bigger compromises, and lead us to get to a place where we ask the question: “How did I get here?” These small compromises could look like driving over the speed limit, putting soda in a water cup at a restaurant, using sarcasm as a banner to say hurtful things, lying on time cards at work, or submitting someone else’s work in school. There are countless examples of this. We are tempted to make these decisions when we slowly move away from the truth of God’s Word, and forget that everything He commands us to do is for our good. As new creations, we are to live our lives above reproach walking with the utmost integrity in everything we do.
- Where are you tempted to make small compromises that you know are dishonest?
- What does this command in verse 10 teach you about the character of God?
- Do you believe that God’s Word is authoritative in your life? What in your life would point towards it being authoritative?
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